Norman Takeuchi

For some artists, making art can be a deeply personal and challenging process – painful at times, riddled with self-doubt and taking years to achieve real creative satisfaction. But the results, over time and transitions, can be life-changing.

The Takeuchi family was one of 22,000 first and second-generation Japanese Canadians whose rights were stripped after the implementation of the War Measures Act of 1941. The effect was devastating for these hard-working people not deserving of such unjust upheaval and humiliation.

This was the backdrop for Norman Takeuchi’s childhood, spent in a small British Columbia town. But he took an early interest in art and eventually enrolled at the Vancouver School of Art, studying painting and commercial art. He painted in London, England for several years before settling in Ottawa to a career as an exhibition and graphic designer for Expo ’67 and the Canadian Museum of Nature, where he remained for 25 years.

Later in life, Takeuchi’s Japanese heritage became more important to him as long-held emotions surrounding the internment years and his own cultural identity surfaced. His most recent paintings contrast images referencing Japanese culture with iconic landscapes and abstracted areas of colour. Through this work, his painful family history and his own “uneasiness with shame and anger” have over time given way to reconciliation, healing and the ability to embrace both his Japanese and Canadian heritage.

He has exhibited widely in the Ottawa region including solo shows at Karsh Masson Gallery and Carleton University Art Gallery. His work is represented in the public art collections of the Royal Ontario Museum, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa Art Gallery, Canada Council Art Bank and the City of Ottawa. In 2019-2020 he was invited to exhibit in curated exhibitions at the Japanese Cultural Centre (Toronto) and The Royal Ontario Museum.

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